When The Undertaker returned from a sabbatical at WrestleMania 20, he reverted back to his classic "Deadman" gimmick to the tune of vociferous approval.
Eight years later, the pitch darkness, ominous bell tolls, top hat and black trench coat have characterized "The Phenom."
However, this past Monday on the February 20 edition of RAW, The Undertaker displayed signs of an impending shift from supernatural force to human being.
More vulnerable than ever, Undertaker has been well aware of his physical decay, inability to dominate opponents (i.e., Triple H at WrestleMania 27) and as he termed it, the imminent "apocalypse."
Suffice it to say, WrestleMania 28 will mark the end of an era as the relics of wrestling's golden age have their final moment in the spotlight inside a Hell in a Cell structure that is synonymous with finality.
But until then, we'll likely come to know Undertaker as we've never quite seen him before.
For those who remember, The Undertaker debuted a new rendition of his character at Judgment Day 2000—"The American Badass"—which later morphed into "The Big Evil" in late 2001 upon turning heel.
"The American Badass" phase saw The Undertaker ride a motorcycle to the ring, change his theme music to Limp Bizkit's "Rollin," speak naturally (without slowly intoning his words) and develop a more fluid style in the ring.
It was the first time we'd seen The Undertaker presented in a human light, which culminated with "The Big Evil" gimmick when the last reminder of his "Prince of Darkness" days—his long mane—was snipped off.
Before last Monday, it was a side of The Undertaker we hadn't been exposed to since he reconnected with the dark side nearly a decade ago.
Yet, on RAW, when the cornerstone of the WWE walked out to the ring sporting a hood disguising his hair (or lack thereof), it became clear that the otherworldly vigilante was now a mere mortal.
The moment he uttered his words with a Texan drawl, practically begged Triple H for another WrestleMania showdown and paced the ring with a hint of anxiety, it was obvious that the previously impenetrable armor was off, leaving only the man.
And when Metallica's "The Memory Remains" blared over the speakers, the initial signs of the transformation could not be denied—The Undertaker, the transcendent being, had been depleted of his source of physics-defying power. All that he had left was his pride, honor and integrity.
On April 1st, 2012, The Undertaker will ultimately stand in the center of the ring as one of us. Any lingering doubts about this will be expunged when the 6'10" legend bares a shaven head in place of where his cascading hair used to be.
The cowl will be lifted to reveal a man struggling with his own mortality, who is willing to give us, the fans, whatever else he has left to wrestle the match of a lifetime against Triple H inside the unrelenting confines of steel mesh.
As the new-look Undertaker drains the last of his reserves to bestow the WWE universe with an everlasting WrestleMania memory, we'll be reminded of his prior portrayals—"The American Badass" and "The Big Evil."
Most importantly, however, we'll undoubtedly be reminded of the perseverant person behind the presentation—Mark Calaway.